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Archive for February, 2022

Ask the Expert Series: Order Picking Solutions

February 21st, 2022  | 
ProductivityResource Center/BLOGSystems & Automation

It is no secret that managing a warehouse or distribution center today is a challenge, especially if you rely on manual processes. Adding order fulfillment technologies can help.  

In this blog post, we continue our Ask the Expert Series with Toyota Material Handling Solutions’ Director of Sales and Marketing Anthony Spano. Anthony’s decades of experience in picking processes and technologies can help determine the best solution for your application. Today he explains six order picking technologies and the benefits of each one.  

What are the benefits of order fulfillment technologies?  

An automated order picking solution offers many benefits, but here are the big three:  

  1. Increased efficiency  
  2. Reduced picking errors  
  3. Improved customer service  

What are the different types of order picking solutions? 

Here are the top six solutions companies are implementing today:  

  1. Goods-to-person  
  2. Voice picking  
  3. Pick to light  
  4. Put to light  
  5. Put wall  
  6. RF handheld scanners  

What is goods-to-person order fulfillment?  

Goods-to-person combines automated storage with accurate, ergonomic picking processes. With this system, products are automatically transported directly to the operator as needed, saving valuable travel time to retrieve the order.  

What are the main benefits of goods-to-person order picking?  

  • Ideal for ergonomic picking  
  • Easily scalable to match growing demand or an increase in SKUs  
  • Produces a smaller footprint and uses less space than other order picking solutions  

What is voice picking order fulfillment?  

Voice picking is an easy-to-learn paperless order picking solution. With voice picking, an operator is equipped with a mobile device and a headset and given easy-to-understand voice prompts to tell them where to go and what to do.  

What are the benefits of voice picking?  

  • Flexible and scalable solution  
  • Great for environments with many SKUs  
  • Keeps operators’ hands-free and focused on the task at hand  

What is pick-to-light order fulfillment?  

Pick to light, also called pick-to-light or PTL, is a light-directed warehouse picking technology. It provides accurate and efficient paperless picking, putting, and sorting.  

What are the benefits of pick-to-light order fulfillment?  

  • A versatile solution for many applications  
  • Highly effective in zones with high pick volumes and dense pick faces   

What is a put to light system?  

A put to light system is like a pick to light system but reverse. Instead of order fulfillment, a put to light system replenishes stock.  

What are the benefits of a put to light system?  

  • Very efficient for stock replacement  
  • Non-intrusive. Lights are typically mounted on shelving or carton flow rack placed above or below the designated put to light device.  

What is a put wall system?  

A put wall system handles a large volume of orders in a small footprint. We implement our Exacta® supply chain software suite as a complete solution or separate components in this system. It is also compatible with other software brands and is easily scalable.  

What are the benefits of a put wall system?  

  • Paperless processing  
  • Smaller footprint than other systems  

What are RF handheld scanners? 

RF handheld scanners are an easy-to-install modular solution with access to data from anywhere in the world. We use the Exacta mobile platform to deliver the most critical information directly to the operators with this system.  

What are the benefits of RF handheld scanners?  

  • Quickly and easily incorporate product images  
  • Supports multiple languages  

There are many ways to use automated systems to increase efficiency and productivity. Click on these links to read about robotic palletizing, robotic order picking, and cube utilization, and stay tuned for future Ask the Expert blog posts. 

Got questions about the process of optimizing your warehouse with Toyota? Click here to learn the first steps in the process, what is involved in the analysis, what you will get back from Toyota, who secures the permits, how much you need to be involved in the process, and more.  

Ready to automate your warehouse or distribution center? Contact us today! 

Ask the Expert Series: Cube Utilization  

February 1st, 2022  | 
ProductivityResource Center/BLOGSystems & Automation

Do you want to get more out of your warehouse space, save money and be more efficient? Maximizing your warehouse cube utilization is the key.  

In this part of our Ask the Expert Series, our Director of Sales and Marketing Anthony Spano answers frequently asked questions about maximizing cube utilization 

Anthony is our in-house expert on all things involving automation, software, and labor. His source of happiness comes from helping companies find the right mix of high-performance automation solutions to optimize productivity and maximize profits. Anthony and his team are eager to help you, too!  

Why is cube utilization essential?  

Vertical stacking and other methods of cube utilization vastly increase the available space in a warehouse to save money and increase efficiency.  

What is the formula for cube utilization?  

Warehouse cube utilization is the total available space within your warehouse to store products. The formula for cube utilization is space used compared to maximum space open. If you use every available space in your warehouse, you have 100 percent warehouse cube utilization.  

How do you figure out the maximum space available?  

Maximum space equals the available storage locations within a warehouse. It does not include aisleways and other areas reserved for forklifts, conveyors, and workers.  

Why is tracking cube utilization important?  

Tracking your cube utilization allows you to measure the performance of your warehouse over time and gives you essential metrics to plan for seasonal changes.  

What are the methods of cube utilization? 

There are three standard methods of cube utilization, including:  

  1. Stacking. Stacking is the most basic, simple method of cube utilization but is highly dependent on product strength and stability. Stacking is an excellent option if you are shipping heavy, durable products like canned food or packaged beverages.  
  2. Racking. Pallet racking lets you place pallets above ground level, allowing more pallet positions in the warehouse. It is an excellent option for shipping more delicate items.  
  3. Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS). ASRS systems use both vertical and horizontal space to maximize cube utilization. It is an excellent option for warehouses with perfectly balanced and packed loads.  

What type of pallets should I use to maximize cube utilization? 

Wood pallets are the most common pallets found in warehouses, but they are not the best option for vertically stored products. Here are three reasons why:  

  1. Wood has natural variations in weight and dimension and can shrink and swell, which can cause problems with fork placement and load distribution.  
  2. Wood pallets are held together with nails, which can come out, weaken the load, and cause a safety issue, especially from high above.  
  3. Wood is a natural material that breaks down over time. Cracked and broken boards can cause product and equipment damage.  

For these reasons, we recommend a high-quality plastic pallet as the best option to maximize cube utilization.  

Why are plastic pallets better than wood?  

There are many reasons plastic pallets are better than wood, including:  

  1. Plastic pallets are dimensionally stable and will bend rather than break.  
  2. Plastic pallets will not shed debris or nails or get caught on products or machinery.  
  3. Plastics are lighter than wood and easy to clean and sanitize.  

What can we do to improve warehouse space utilization?  

  1. Look up! All the space above you is prime real estate for cube utilization. Vertical racking is obvious, but what about a mezzanine? A warehouse mezzanine is an excellent solution for extra storage space if your building layout permits.  
  2. Check your picking slots and aisle width. To save space, match picking slot sizes with product size and design your warehouse aisles to accommodate the minimum width needed for your material handling equipment.  
  3. Check your shipping and receiving doors. Can you combine them into one to save space? Looking for new ways to utilize your current space better is often the fastest and cheapest way to increase your warehouse space utilization.  

Making the most out of your warehouse space is essential for your bottom line. Our team is on standby to help you get the most out of your warehouse space. Contact us for a free consultation today.  

Did you miss the first two posts in our Ask The Expert Series? Click here to learn about robotic palletizing systems and solutions and click here to learn about robotic order picking.